My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« What have Ricky Gervais, Chris Moyles and three french maids have in common? | Main | More reviews of Communities Dominate Brands »

January 24, 2006



While I agree Felica is a great thing in both technical and productization aspects, I think it's (much) too soon to start talking about a mobile "wallet". As I wrote some time ago - -, our physical wallets carry so many things that having them all crammed to a single card, while theoretically feasible, is neither likely nor probably desirable.

I'm all for NFC-type proximity payments and access technologies, but let's not get carried away quite yet. Getting all industries to co-operate in a fashion that would truly allow us to get rid of our wallet is a major feat, the realization of which is still many, many years away.

alan moore

How many years is that I wonder. Not quite as many I would argue as you would imagine.

It seems that in convergence we are reaching a tipping point in many areas.

I can pay for congestion charging in London via my mobile - not quite M-wallet I agree. However I can still activate payment via my mobile. So why can't I pay for taxi's in London, or the underground.

I know there are a few companies working very hard at this at the moment on this specifically. In Croatia, & Norway amongst others you can pay for your parking space via the mobile. In Austria Robbie Williams sold 20% of his tickets for a recent concert there, via the mobile. In Finland you can buy your train tickets and the lottery via the mobile.

And the virtual world of Habbo hotel you can pay via your mobile.

The future has arrived its just not evenly distributed at the moment




I used to work for one of those companies who are working very hard to make it happen; this was some 5-10 years ahead of its time though. Sure we are starting to see plenty of good examples of m-commerce, but m-commerce does not equal m-wallet. Even with the m-commerce hype long gone, I think we're not there yet in terms of m-wallet. Instead, we're slowly getting there with m-commerce. Often it's forgotten that it's not just what you _can_ do, it's what is actually used and works for the general public - too many m-commerce projects still fail at the usability stage.

But this would probably be a good point in time to set a wager - how many years will it take until Joe Average will be able to conduct all daily affairs and purchases without a wallet in a chosen country?

alan moore

I can feel your pain "I used to work for one of those companies" Sadly Tomi IS the expert on this - but how many years?

How many do you think?

Remember before 2000 there was NO content for the mobile phone. Now there are more mobile phones than TV sets. 2 billion+

Its a real pisser being a pioneer - as you pour your heart and soul into something and then ..... diddley squat, zilch, the big 0

So - how many do you think it is before we can do this in your view properly?

But here goes or in fact here Tomi goes

In 2010 the typical mainstream mobile phone will be 3.5G phone with a 5 Megapixel optical zoom cameraphone with WiFi type speeds and built-in TV tuners, and a gigabyte size hard drive (like today's i-Pods). The smallest phones are the size of a thick credit card. Credit cards merge with the mobile phone. Music and videgaming industries earn more from direct downloads to mobile phones that from sales of CD/DVD/gaming CDs in record stores/video stores. Mobile payments are commonplace for parking, vending machines, public transportation, lotteries, movies

As to services ten years from now in 2015 all major stores will accept payment by mobile phone, from petrol stations to supermarkets to hotels to convenience stores to restaurants etc. The total money transactions will shift where more money goes through mobile phones than stand-alone credit cards.


Well, Tomi's predictions on the phone capabilities feel accurate enough as a very rough prediction.

But I disagree on the payment by mobile phone part. First, I believe "stand-alone credit cards" will be the means of payment - the card details may come from the phone via NFC or something similar, but I don't for example see the mobile operator becoming a big player here for physical purchases. And when credit cards go the road of NFC, it's not just the phones they will be integrated with (like Exxon/Mobil Speedpass). Second, a lot depends on when the players "get" the business part. With the vending machine case, most trials so far have been killed by the very simple fact that getting a Coke can cost 30% more when paying with a phone. In a word, operator greediness does not help the ecosystem's development.

But to answer the scenario I posed - when can an average Joe go through a typical day or a week and not need a wallet - I'll say 2020. Early adopters could probably do it 5 years earlier.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Sami and Alan

I tried to post something two days ago from Japan but it apparently did not somehow get through. Sorry.

Yes, excellent discussion, thank you for the comments Sami and for answering on my behalf, Alan ha-ha...

I agree Sami that its a very long way to go, and that m-Commerce does not a mobile wallet make.

But we are actually already remarkably far into that future vision. Furthest along is Korea, where SK Tellecom's mobile phones have been used as Visa credit cards for three years already, where they pay anything from airline tickets to petrol for your car, by mobile phone.

And on the "more than money in your wallet" argument, that is where this range of Felica services so rapidly in Japan is truly fulfilling the vision - as already they have real cases of Felica/the mobile phone being used as loyalty cards, employee ID cards, passkeys, even to open residential (electronic) locks, ie your keys. And arguably, the picture of your kids in your wallet - that is increasingly also on the cameraphones as your screen saver. Most of the wallet is already possible on the phone.

Korea is there already. In one year, 8 million Japanese have converted to Felica. In Helsinki Finland for example the single ticket sales of public transportation - underground, trams etc - rushed to the mobile phone - 40% of all single tickets in the first two years !

By the end of this decade industrial countries advanced in mobile (such as Scandinavia, Italy, Israel, Signapore, Hong Kong etc) will follow; mainstream industrial countries next (the UK, Spain, France, Germany etc) around 2010 and even the USA and Canada will get onboard early in the next decade.

So yes, Sami, we are not there. And it will take years not months to achieve it. But that mobile wallet vision is now inevitable. Just like young people are increasingly abandoning wearing the wristwatch, and businesspeople stopped carrying around paper based organizers, soon we too will start to go without the traditional wallet. I for one can't wait.

Thanks for writing !!

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Hello Tomi..

As you know I totally agree that it's not if but when. The % of adoption, like most things digital, will depend on the users age and area demographic.

If you think about the 3 main things a traditional wallet holds; currency (plastic or paper), ID and maybe some family photos, these functions are easily bundled into an IC chip. Also, enabling loyalty points & coupons, membership cards, digital tickets and traditional magnetic access keys onto the one item that you "really" can't leave home without.. it's the camera-phone on steriods!

Sami: I just read you post. Of the dozen or so wallet examples suggested there most are already available via NFC, at least in Japan. I think that 'viable solutions' are much less than 10 years away, although indeed the stakeholders challenge could well be an regional issue.

btw: DoCoMo announced on 26 January that they passed the 10 million Felica handset sales mark.

Consider that both Au and Vodafone also rolling out Felica models - and the typical handset replacement cycle of 12 to 18 months here in Japan - imho we are at or even past the so-called tipping point.

Cheers.. 8-)

J Sugimoto

I dont know why the rest of the world is so behind in technology, even a UK network become the partner of DoCoMo and use i-mode services but still not felica. its not exactly difficult to catch up, even KDDI and Softbank use felica too. I can only say, Im just so glad Im japanese and can use such convenient services. And when i go to UK for university, i will miss my phone service soooooo much!!

Tomi T Ahonen

Dear J Sugimoto

Thank you for posting. Yes, it surprises us too. Felica is such an obvious hit, and with all three Japanese mobile operators having adopted it, it should be a front-runner for the world. But its very slow moving with innovations from Japan.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

صور مراد علم دار

very good man

دردشة عراقية

ohhhh thank u

دردشه عراقيه

errrg rgyytrgf

Henry Peise

Microsoft is swinging at Apple again with this new commercial featuring a white iphone 4 showing Avatar on a blu-ray disc and a jealous MacBook looking from the side.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati